Navy Opponent Preview: at Connecticut

The Mids first road game of 2015 is their third game of the season and sees them travel to Hartford, Connecticut to take on UConn. This is an AAC contest, Navy’s first ever conference road game, and is against a beatable opponent who will have already faced one option attack as Army plays the Huskies earlier in week two.

2014 Record: 2-10 (1-7 in the American Athletic Conference

Series Record: Navy leads 6-1 in a series which dates back to a first meeting in 1955, which Navy won 55-7. The schools then played in a series for the next five years, all games won by Navy, before a break until 2002 which saw the lone UConn win, a 38-0 rout of the Mids in Annapolis.

Last Meeting: The last time that Navy faced UConn in East Hartford it was a bad day for the Huskies. Brian Hampton connected with Reggie Campbell for a 77 yard touchdown on the Mids first play from scrimmage, and in addition Navy ran in touchdowns covering 68 and 52 yards on their way to piling up 605 yards of total offense. Navy went on to win the game 41-17.

Head Coach: Bob Diaco is entering his second season as the Huskies head coach with a 2-10 (.167) win/loss record. This is Diaco’s first head coaching job, but he was much sought after as a candidate after a hugely successful job as an assistant/coordinator at Notre Dame.

Spring News: Connecticut went into the spring needing to find a quarterback and came out of the spring, well…still needing to find a quarterback. During the spring the competition seemed to be narrowed down to newly-eligible transfer Bryant Shirreffs and junior Tim Boyle. With neither able to take a firm hold of the job however the door may still be open for JuCo transfer Garrett Anderson to come in and steal the starting gig. Whoever does get the job will be without a projected top target, as potential team captain and starting tight-end Sean McQuillan was dismissed from the team in June after being charged with second degree assault.

Projected Strengths: In 2015 the Huskies are going to be a team which relies heavily on its defense. UConn returns seven starters, including three of its top four tacklers from last fall. After switching to a base 3-4 alignment last spring, this year the coaching could focus more on making individual players better as opposed to just setting the scheme. That subtle difference in how the coaching was presented will have a big impact this fall.

Senior linebackers Marquise Vann (105 tackles) and Graham Stewart (94 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss) will be the leaders of this defense and both are talented players. The back end of the defense is also in great hands and the secondary may be the strongest overall unit on the team. Free safety Andrew Adams defied his role with 96 tackles a year ago, while cornerbacks Jhavon Williams and Jamar Summers are outstanding cover guys.

Projected Weaknesses: The defense projects to be very good, but it will be for naught if the offense doesn’t improve on an awful 2014 where it averaged just 15.5 points per game. As mentioned above the quarterback position is still very much in flux and any one of the three candidates could still get the opening day nod. Diaco must find a starter early in fall camp and still with that player if the offense is to develop any continuity by the time this game rolls around.

The offensive line is also a major worry for the nation’s 123rd best offense from a year ago. In the giant (6’8”, 310-pound) Andreas Knappe and fellow junior Richard Levy the tackles are in place. The line as a whole though just didn’t look comfortable with relying on each other last fall and that showed in the putrid offensive production. Wide receiver is also an issue with the top two players from 2014 having departed.

Prediction: If Navy is at all serious about competing to the AAC title in its first year in the conference then this game is more than just a must win. It is a game where the Mids have to blow out UConn, winning by at least three scores, putting down a marker that they are a team to be reckoned with as the season progresses. Right now UConn are in full rebuild mode, this is the Mids chance to make a statement and give the rest of the conference something to think about. Top Stories